Camping Edition! Thanks to Melissa’s Produce.
“Consider the eggplant, shiny purple, tight skin. Like something Prince would wear.”
Aaaah, it seems like yesterday we uttered those words. They ring with the poignancy of Edison’s “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” It may just as well as been yesterday as it was three years, and four kitchens ago that we shot our first episode of DIO! Where does the thyme go, I tell you. It goes in the pantry, you know that.
Sista Sal and I lived together in a tiny little cottage on the sleepy CT Shoreline. Yes, Yankee Key West as I liked to call it. And I maintained the outdoors for she and I. We had hanging baskets, decorative barrels, pots, cans and window sills. There was a festive Perennial Love Garden chock filled with hasta, Allium and black-eyed susan’s. I grew giant-sized sunflowers that stopped traffic. There was bamboo. Side note, the bamboo grows spreads like, well you know, it spreads crazy like. It spread under the neighbors fence who thought he might harvest it. He was sure it was asparagus. Oh, Yankee Key West. My point was around here and I know it will resurface. Like bamboo.
The size of our vegetable garden grew each year. It was lined with brick (we’re Italian) and subject to many trips by Ma (The Tomato Thief). Eventually a fence was put around it to prevent rabbits, deer and
yes, Ma. Every fall I buried fish breakdowns in the native american traditions to fertilize the soil. Our bounty was always amazing. The tomatillo plants and the eggplant plants were the most amazing. Their leaves and branches had a jaunty raconteur nature to them. These plants were the “Zoot Suit Riot” of my 90’s garden life. Take a moment and smell the Seattle Coffee. Such a fun time.
Sista Sal asked recently if there was a great recipe for her bounty of eggplant and if it could be kid friendly. Sista Sal speaks, Li’l Bro listens.
- 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I like Tillamook)
- 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 3 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup oil for frying
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Place eggplant in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium-high 3 minutes. Turn eggplant over and microwave another 2 minutes. Eggplant should be tender, cook another 2 minutes if the eggplants are not tender. Drain any liquid from the eggplants and mash.
- Combine cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, onion, garlic and salt with the mashed eggplant. Mix well.
- Shape the eggplant mixture into Patties. Heat oil in a large skillet. Drop eggplant Patties one at a time into skillet. Fry each side of the Patties until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes on each side. Freezing Patties for half hour prior to frying help with keeping their shape.
My first girlfriend was ravioli. Pasta and cheese all under the same blanket of sauce??? Oh, Mylanta, step back. If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I fell in love with this special made pasta and treasure our courtship. On Sundays after church Papa Spats would drive a couple of us children over to Ravioli Kitchen in Hartford, CT. This was a big moment on it’s own, so many of us vying for Pop’s attention, #winning. Ravioli Kitchen was an amazing smelling place that made these little pillows of joy. The rectangular box was pale blue with white and red accents. It was sealed with plastic red tape. Inside egg and cheese would waft. The pastas were in uniform rows, layers divided by parchment paper. Going to Ravioli Kitchen was like a treasure quest in many ways.
We would only have ravioli on special occasions, there were so many mouths to feed in our house growing up that ravioli every Sunday was not in the realm of possibilities. And with the appetites of Pop’s, Brother John’s and mine waiting, forget it. I remember those Sundays with great love. It meant quality time. It meant family time. It mean all my best friends were getting together for a little party on my plate. It was Yalta to the taste. Happy National Ravioli Day to you and yours. We hope your memories warm you too.
And a little ps here…….
Happy Birthday Sista Trish!!!! We’d put an embarrassing photo up to mark your special day, but remember that you can still punch pretty hard at your age. Go eat some ravioli, it’s the first day of Spring y’know!
You heard me.
It’s March 16th and you better be loving all things green. Like artichoke hearts. Maybe they’re yellowish beige, for our content here today they’re pale green, from a green plant. For those who are green. We heart these hearts.
We first met a 1000 years ago in Yankee Key West (The CT Shoreline). We both had more hair then, me in a bi-level with a rat’s tail, Arty with a fibrous leafy covering. The chef at LL Chapman’s (more on LL another time) took three little hearts and put them in an oval ramekin. Splashed with white wine they then got a scoop of creamy italian dressing, creamy bleu cheese dressing and two pieces of swiss cheese on top. In that little Love Boat went to the oven. Ten minutes later you had Artichoke Hearts Roman (chef name) my favorite appetizer of the Summer of 1987. I couldn’t believe how easy they were to assemble, how easily they went down. Tasty tasty. The melted cheese on the side of the dish was crusty and delicious. The entire ramekin was sponge cleaned with loaves of hot Italian bread. This was of course back when carbs were something completely different. It was there we first met, in 1987. There went my heart.
Subsequently we’ve dallied together in saute with chicken, we’ve fried in a tasty breading. Arty Choke and I maintain our mutual admiration society to this day. Arty’s and mine latest spin is a great Gluten Free hors d’ oveur. In lieu of a cracker a halved artichoke heart makes a great base for tapenade or hummus or even a grilled shrimp.
Sometimes when I eat one of these little yummies I hear Celine Dion in the background crooning “……my heart will go on, and on……” and I smile about my rat’s tail.
Food For Thought:
“Almost every artichoke produced in the United States comes from California. Did you know that the town of Castroville, California crowned its first “Artichoke Queen” in 1947? The winner was a young actress named Norma Jean Mortenson who later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe!” National Artichoke Heart Day, punchbowl.com